Trump Cancels Eagles White House Visit
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - President Donald Trump abruptly canceled a scheduled visit by the Super Bowl champion Eagles to the White House.
The Eagles were set to be honored on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday at 3 P.M. ET and confirmation of the event was sent to reporters early in the afternoon until Trump begged off due to the planned protest of certain players.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," Trump said in a statement. "They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country."
The Eagles accepted the original invite but left it up to each individual player whether or not they wanted to attend. Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, Brandon Graham and Torrey Smith, now with the Carolina Panthers, were among those who confirmed to reporters that they did not plan to be at the event.
The NFL Network reported only about 10 players were planning to attend.
Coach Doug Pederson said he would attend while Carson Wentz intimated he would but only if the team agreed to it.
"Everyone has their own opinion on it. I don’t view it as political thing whatsoever,” Wentz said last month. “I don’t really mess with politics very often.
“... I know for me personally, if the team decides as a whole that most guys are going to go or will be a part of it, I will be attending with them. It’s cool to receive the honor nationally and be recognized."
"The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better," Trump claimed.
The President did not disinvite the contingent of Eagles fans who were invited to the White House and they will still be able "to be part of a different type of ceremony—one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem," Trump said.
"I will be there at 3:00 P.M. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America," the POTUS said.
Trump raised the ire of some NFL players who protested during the national anthem, calling into question their patriotism and encouraging the league to punish them if the protests continued.
Smith quickly took to Twitter to counter the narrative coming from the POTUS.
Smith also insisted that the Eagles players who wanted to attend should have been given that opportunity.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are already reaching out and giving the Eagles the option of visiting the U.S. Capitol instead.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney also blasted Trump's decision.
“Disinviting [the Eagles] from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend," the Mayor said.
The Eagles organization didn't respond to the controversy until late in the evening and much like Jeffrey Lurie's statement after the NFL changed its national anthem policy, the decision was to go in a vague and less-than substantive direction, no doubt in an effort to move forward from a manufactured issue as quickly as possible.
“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship," the club said. "Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Want more NFL? Check out John's piece on why 'The Cleanse' in Cleveland was about more than losing at GetMoreSports.com